Spokane County is adding $812 million in newly constructed buildings and newly platted land to its tax rolls this year, which is down from more than $1 billion in each of the previous two years, but still quite healthy, says Assessor Ralph Baker.
The county put the value of new assessed commercial construction alone at $341.1 million, down about 14 percent from $395.3 million last year and $276.5 million in 2006. Those figures include office, retail, and industrial projects. The remaining $471 million in assessed new-construction value this year was in residential-related construction activity.
Things are slowing down, but certainly not stopped, Baker says. Im pleasantly surprised. Spokane has fared well in this whole slowdown. We havent done too badly.
Given recent volatility in the housing and financial markets, though, he adds, I would say its impossible to predict what next year will hold.
This years total assessed new construction figure represents about a 25 percent drop from the record $1.085 billion worth of new construction recorded last year, which was up slightly from $1.053 billion in 2006. Byron Hodgson, the assessors office appraisal manager, says, though, Those were kind of exceptional years.
Baker notes, too, that this years overall new construction figure still is ahead of the $779 million worth of new construction added to the tax rolls in 2005.
All of the figures are for 12-month periods ending in August. The assessors office is required to submit a report on total new-construction assessments in the county to the state Department of Revenue by mid-September of each year.
The assessed value of newly constructed buildings is incorporated into the countys total assessed value, which the assessors office still is working to compile for this year. Last year, the countys total assessed value for tax bills sent out this year increased $4.8 billion, or 15.5 percent, to $35.8 billion, assessors office data show. That growth rate is down only slightly from an 18.5 percent jump the prior year. The countys total assessed value has surged nearly 80 percent since 2000, when it was just under $20 million.
This year, it seems like values in some areas are going down, some areas more than others, while still rising in other areas, which makes it difficult to predict how this years total assessed value will compare with last years figure, he says.
He says he sent out about 202,000 assessment notices this summer, and property owners filed about 1,500 appeals of tax assessments to the countys Board of Equalization, down from around 2,200 appeals last year. The 2008 assessed values will be used to calculate property taxes for 2009.
Levy rates for many properties have been shrinking in recent years, and what remains to be seen is whether that will continue next year. For example, the levy rate this year for Tax Code Area 10, which covers most of Spokane and includes assessments for county, city, emergency medical services, and state and Spokane Public Schools tax districts is $11.10 per $1,000 of assessed value. Thats down from tax rates of $13.08 in 2007, $14.83 in 2006, and $15.53 in 2005.
Baker emphasizes that property owners tax bills are determined by a combination of the assessed value of their property and the budget requests of the various taxing districts, which means that peoples tax bills dont necessarily rise or fall correspondingly to the assessed values.
Before Bakers office can calculate 2009 property tax rates, it must calculate the total value of taxable personal property in the county, which includes things such as business equipment and farm machinery, and it has to receive budgets from each of the more than fifty taxing districts in the county. Some of those districts overlap or combine to create about 120 different tax code areas in all.
The assessors office appraisal staff assesses residential and commercial property at fair market value for tax purposes. Baker says that since he became assessor in 2003, his office has raised the assessed-value-to-market-value ratio to 90 percent or better from 87 percent, meaning it now is assigning values to properties that are closer to their actual market value.
Contact Kim Crompton at (509) 344-1263 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
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